Tuesday, December 15, 2009

BikeWalkLee Lakes Park Survey Analysis

Survey analysis
This survey was conducted as part of BikeWalkLee's public outreach event at Lakes Park in Fort Myers on Nov. 8, 2009. A total of 176 participants responded to the survey.
What do you do the most? Driving led for almost 65% of the respondents, followed by biking and walking/running.
If you could change that, what would you like to do more? Biking came out on top for 62% of those responding, followed by walk/run and then driving.
Asked to pick their top three suggestions to improve transportation options in Lee County, respondents ranked their choices in the following order:
1. More bike/walk facilities
2. More mass transit choices
3. Better connections between existing bile/walk facilities
4. Better enforcement of existing laws
5. More consideration and planning for the needs of all users of Lee County streets.
6. More promotion of biking/walking/mass transit as an alternative to driving.
7. More laws protecting bikers, walkers and mass transit users.
8. Better coordination between governmental entities on bike/walk issues.
Do you feel safe? Participants were asked about their feeling of safety for biking, walking and taking mass transit. The intent of this question was to identify the overall feeling of safety in Lee County locations versus safety in specific locations.
Biking: 48% of respondents said they felt "safe" or "very safe," while 51.2% said they did not feel safe or would not bike.
Walking: 68% said they felt "very safe" or "safe," while 32% said they did not feel safe or won't do it.
Mass transit: 51% said they felt "very safe" or "safe," while 39% said they did not feel safe or they wouldn’t use it.
Asked to rank why they like to bike or walk, the answers were:
1. Good for my health
2. Good method of transportation
3. Good for the environment
4. Good for my budget
5. Good for the community
When asked if they would support additional public investment in bile/walk/transit facilities in the county, almost everyone said yes. However, participants were nearly evenly split between whether spending was "desperately needed" and "be selective how it is spent." Participants were then asked how much more they would pay annually in taxes to support more biking/walking/transit facilities: Almost a third said $50 or more ― the highest figure offered ― while 20.7% said "$10-$20" and 16.7% said "$1-$10." This indicates that the majority of respondents would be in support of additional facilities, and that many are willing to pay for those facilities if necessary.
When asked what was the best place for biking or walking in Lee County, the most common responses were: Lakes Park, Sanibel, the linear park along the Ten Mile Canal, and some of the quieter roads east of town.
When asked what was the worst place for biking or walking, the list was a little more diverse...but U.S. 41 and the Sanibel tollbooth were frequently mentioned. Some cast a wider net, saying that all of the county's or the city's streets were unsafe; others singled out downtown or Palm Beach Boulevard (no room), area bridges (too much litter and glass) or Alico and Corkscrew Roads (too many dump trucks).
What was the most important thing that needs to be done in the next year? Most often mentioned:
• Extend the Summerlin Road path from McGregor Blvd. through the toll booths.
• Connect existing bike paths.
• Build more bile/walk facilities.
• Improve public education on how bikers/walkers and drivers cans share the road (and elsewhere) more safely.
• Ensure new roadways have adequate bike/walk infrastructure from design forward.
BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, reports, statistics and background available online at www.BikeWalkLee.org
BikeWalkLee would like to thank the Center for Public and Social Policy at Florida Gulf Coast University for providing data entry support.
FINE PRINT: This survey has several limitations. First, participants were asked to participate as they biked, walked, or otherwise enjoyed the amenities at Lakes Park. One might conclude that this group has a favorable predisposition to support biking and walking; but not necessarily transit. In addition, the survey was delivered to participants in the form of a paper copy, which often introduces error. For example, respondents did not consistently follow the question instructions, particularly those questions that required ranking. Regardless, the survey provides important feedback regarding how this group, who is inclined to support biking and walking, feels about the biking, walking, and transit environment, priorities, funding and improvements needed in Lee County.

Monday, December 14, 2009

BikeWalkLee calls on Lee Legislative Delegation to take actions to address preventable pedestrian and cyclist deaths


MONDAY, Dec. 14, 2009


Darla Letourneau

(239) 850-3219 dletourneau@bikewalklee.org

BikeWalkLee calls on Lee Legislative Delegation to take actions to address preventable pedestrian and cyclist deaths

FORT MYERS, FL — BikeWalkLee, a community coalition advocating for complete streets in Lee County, has issued a challenge to both Governor Crist and the Lee County Legislative Delegation for specific actions to address the epidemic of preventable pedestrian and cyclist deaths in Florida.

Last month, a national report ranked Florida as the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians, with a danger index three times the national average. Lee County’s danger index is even higher than Florida’s statewide average and ranks 23rd worst out of the 360 metro areas in the nation— putting us in the top 5% most dangerous areas in the country. Every week we see this danger made graphically real as another pedestrian is killed on our roads, such as the Dec. 8 death of a pedestrian while trying to cross U.S. 41 at Victoria Avenue in Fort Myers.

On Nov. 20, BikeWalkLee sent a letter to Gov. Crist and state legislative leaders, asking them for a plan of action to reverse this long-standing stain of being the most dangerous state for pedestrians and cyclists. To date, our letter has been met with deafening silence, similar to the silence over the past 15 years as these startling pedestrian fatality numbers are reported annually. Not only have our state leaders not taken action to address this epidemic of preventable deaths, they have returned unspent funds to Washington that were intended to make our streets safer for walkers and cyclists.

As a follow-up, BikeWalkLee sent a letter to the Lee County Legislative Delegation on Dec. 1 asking them to take specific actions this legislative session (which convenes March 2). NONE of these requested items require additional funding—they can be accomplished through oversight, policy and legislative direction to the state government, and a re-prioritization of existing transportation funds. On Dec. 15, BikeWalkLee will present its request to the delegation at its annual meeting.

We call upon the governor and our elected representatives to take the following actions:

· Establish a statewide goal of reducing the share of all traffic deaths that are pedestrians and cyclists by 50 percent (which would bring Florida in line with the national average), and develop a plan for achieving this goal within 10 years, with quantifiable measures to track results.

· Require the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to prioritize allocation of its Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funds as well as State and Community Highway Safety Grant Program funds to reflect the share of all traffic deaths of that mode. Given that 22% of all traffic deaths in Florida are pedestrians and cyclists, 22% of the safety funds should be targeted to make the roads safer for these users.

· Require FDOT to reprioritize its budget for FY 2010-2011 and beyond to double (at least) the share of its transportation dollars going to pedestrian/bike infrastructure. Currently, only 1.5% of Florida transportation dollars are allocated to provide safe and accessible facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. But approximately 30% of all Floridians, including many senior citizens, do not have access to their own motor vehicle for transportation; many more citizens walk, run or cycle for recreation and exercise.

· Implement laws that are already on the books that would make Florida communities safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

o Florida was one of the first states to adopt a complete streets policy in 1987 (F.S. 335.065), yet this statute and its intent have never been implemented in any meaningful way. A good place to start is to aggressively promote a complete streets approach to the design, construction, operation and maintenance of our roadways. FDOT should issue guidance and accountability measures to ensure these provisions are being implemented. Complete streets are safer streets and save lives of pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, as well as to help promote healthy lifestyles.

o The Legislature enacted a Conserve by Bicycle Program (F.S. 335.067) in 2005 to promote energy savings and healthy transportation alternatives, yet no actions have been taken to establish this program. These goals are even more important today than they were five years ago, and FDOT should be required to implement this program as intended.

· For too long, the state’s outdated “Green Book,” the minimum standards for designing roadways, has been used by many counties and municipalities as the excuse for not accommodating bicyclists, pedestrians and transit users. Other national, state, and professional guidelines require higher standards of accommodations for bike/pedestrian/transit users, and it is past time for the Florida Green Book to be updated to reflect these improvements.

· The governor’s office as well as FDOT should expand its “Recovery.gov” website transparency approach to all transportation projects, activities, plans and outcomes. The public should know where its transportation dollars are going, what percentage is being spent on safety of non-motorists, the progress the state is making in meeting goals of reducing the share of all traffic deaths that are bike/pedestrian, etc.

A new day is dawning in Florida transportation. Last week, the Legislature, at the urging of Gov. Crist, passed landmark legislation that establishes a policy framework for rail in our state. As Gov. Crist said, this legislation is a “historic step to transform Florida’s future—not only as it relates to transportation in our state, but also for the employment and economic opportunity of our people.” For a commuter rail system to work, it must be connected to places where people live, work and play. Now is the time to incorporate sidewalks, shared-use paths, bicycle lanes, and transit facilities in the initial planning so that there are intermodal links for the envisioned rail system.

We are pleased that Lee County, through adoption of complete streets resolutions this year by both the Metropolitan Planning Organization and by the Board of County Commissioners, has embarked on a path to safer streets for everyone. For the county to be successful, it needs support and leadership from the governor and state agencies, especially FDOT, since many of the policies and approaches for building our roadways are directed by the state and many of the roadways in our county are actually state roads.

In these difficult economic times, Florida must reinvent itself if it wants to continue to be economically viable and attractive to future generations. It makes good economic sense, as well as safety sense, to become a state that fosters walkable, bikeable and livable communities. We are paying dearly, both in human lives and in lost economic opportunities, for our auto-centric approach to transportation and growth and development. There is no better time than now to make this paradigm shift.

# # #

The referenced letters and reports can be found online:




About BikeWalkLee:

BikeWalkLee is a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County—streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at www.BikeWalkLee.org

Sunday, December 13, 2009

News-Press editorial invites ideas about how to reduce pedestrian deaths

December 12, 2009
Editorial: Pedestrians must wake up

Pedestrians are going to have to take more responsibility for their own survival.
Lee County commissioners approved a resolution last month calling for roadways to be planned, designed and operated for greater pedestrian and bicycle safety.
The county is the 23rd worst metropolitan area in the country for preventable pedestrian deaths. At least 33 walkers have been killed here over the past two years.

Some stretches of road might benefit right now from more lighting, so motorists have a better chance of seeing pedestrians. Safety medians can help, as can more marked pedestrian crossings where traffic is slower.

But some pedestrians are killed because they abandon common sense. They insist on crossing multi-lane thoroughfares at mid-block, without the benefit of crosswalks or pedestrian lights, sometimes at night, sometimes with children in tow.

They court death, especially if they are drunk or otherwise impaired-and they put motorists in danger, too, when desperate attempts are made to avoid striking them.

Many people on foot are homeless, poor, non-English-speaking or otherwise hard to reach with safety education.

Send us ideas about how to reduce pedestrian deaths, especially cheap, quick road fixes or educational campaigns. We'll pass them on to transportation planners.

E-mail mstephens@news-press.com, call 239-335-0226, or write Mark Stephens, Pedestrian Safety, The News-Press, P.O. Box 10, Fort Myers, FL, 33902.

Response from FDOT Assistant Secretary Debbie Hunt to Florida Rails to Trails Conservancy Letter: "Please protect Florida's pedestrians"

From: Del Moral, Cecile [mailto:Cecile.DelMoral@dot.state.fl.us] On Behalf Of Hunt, Debbie
Sent: Friday, December 11, 2009 2:07 PM
To: Darla Letourneau
Subject: RE: Please protect Florida's pedestrians

Dear Ms. Letourneau,

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the need for safety improvements for pedestrians and bicyclists in the state. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and its safety partners continue to work on effective solutions to provide a safe transportation system for all of its users.

In 2008, pedestrian deaths continued their decline from a high of 576 in 2005 to 502, a reduction of close to 15 percent. It is clear that the strategies the FDOT are working on with its safety partners are making a difference, but there is still more that we can do to further reduce this number. Our focus on the state level within our Strategic Highway Safety Plan continues to be on those 'vulnerable road users' who share the road with motor vehicles.
The state is also involved in a multitude of other pedestrian/bicyclist safety measures. The outcome of a 2005 statewide bicycle facilities study required the department to document whether or not bikeways are included in roadway project designs. The Florida Legislature passed a bill that same year to require a full stop by motorists for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal. In 2006, the "three foot law" was passed requiring motorists to allow that much room when passing a bicyclist.

The department currently employs focus groups under the vulnerable road users emphasis area of the Strategic Highway Safety Plan mentioned above, and there is also the department's bicycle/pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues. Dennis Scott, the department's Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator, is involved with many offices within FDOT to provide input and suggestions at various stages of planning and design.

Finally, as strategies are developed and lessons are learned from all over the country, there is recognition on what works and is measured in Minnesota or Illinois may not work here especially considering the wonderful weather available to Florida's citizens throughout the year. This unique circumstance can also offer the department opportunity to develop innovative solutions that can be used elsewhere.

The Florida Department of Transportation appreciates your interest in pedestrian and bicyclist safety. As you correctly note, we are all pedestrians at many times throughout our busy days and the department and its safety partners work continuously to make those travels safer for all.


Debbie Hunt
Assistant Secretary,
Intermodal Systems Development

605 Suwannee Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399

Telephone: 850-414-4100

Response from Speaker Cretul to FL Rails to Trails Conservancy letter: "Please protect Florida's pedestrians

From: Speaker Cretul [mailto:larry.cretul@myfloridahouse.gov]
Sent: Thursday, December 03, 2009 9:54 AM
To: letournd@comcast.net
Subject: Please protect Florida's pedestrians (Thread:77086)

Thank you for your e-mail regarding the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists. I welcome the opportunity to learn of your concerns and I appreciate your suggestions for improving transportation safety.

Please know the Florida Legislature is concerned about the number of pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities, and has worked to make our state safer for pedestrians and bicyclists. State law requires walkers and riders to be fully considered in the development of transportation facilities. In addition, the Legislature passed legislation in 2005 that requires motorists to completely stop for sight impaired pedestrians with a properly identified guide dog or service animal, and 2006 legislation requires motorists to allow three feet clearance when passing a bicyclist. These efforts have resulted in increased pedestrian safety, as this past year saw pedestrian deaths decrease five percent over the previous year.

The Florida Department of Transportation's Safety Office bicycle/pedestrian coordinator works with many offices within the department to provide input and suggestions throughout the various stages of planning and design. This position also serves as a member of the Strategic Intermodal System technical advisory committee to ensure a focus on safety with alternate modes of transportation. In addition, the Florida Department of Transportation has a bicycle and pedestrian interest group that meets regularly to discuss safety issues.

I would encourage you to work with your local government and metropolitan planning organization on pedestrian and bicyclist safety needs in your area. State law requires the plans and programs for each metropolitan area provide for the development and integrated management and operation of transportation systems and facilities, including pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities that will function as an intermodal transportation system. I assure you that I will keep your concerns and suggestions in mind throughout the legislative process

Thank you again for writing to me. If I can be of assistance to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Larry Cretul


Please protect Florida's pedestrians [This was an online "form letter" by Florida's Rails to Trails Conservancy]
Wed, 18 Nov 2009 14:20:16 -0600 (CST)

Nov 18, 2009

Mr. Larry Cretul

Dear Mr. Cretul,

I find it entirely unacceptable--and shameful--that four Florida
communities were, yet again, at or near the top of a national list of
the most dangerous places for pedestrians. A pedestrian in Florida is
twice as likely, on average, to be struck and killed by a vehicle as
are pedestrians in other states. You fare even worse as a bicyclist at
nearly three times.
I ask that you please:
1) Reinstate a statewide citizen advisory committee for bicycle and
pedestrian input;
2) Empower the Florida bicycle and pedestrian coordinator to have
meaningful involvement in all levels of transportation planning;
3) Elevate the Pedestrian and Bicycle Program within FDOT to better
facilitate coordination across divisions and districts and include
bicycling in a meaningful way in the Strategic Intermodal System Plan;
4) Include in any new transit connection (particularly between Orlando
and Tampa) the trails, sidewalks and bike lanes that tie the system to
where people live, work, play and learn from the very start and budget
these improvements accordingly.
We are all pedestrians at some point. Please do whatever is in your
power to improve the safety of Florida's pedestrians and bicyclists


Ms. Darla Letourneau
1679 Serenity Ln
Sanibel, FL 33957-4235

Support Public Transit--take 2 minutes to fill out short survey by Florida Public Transportation Association

The Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) is implementing an education/ advocacy campaign aimed at increasing state and local support for public transit. In order to reach the widest possible audience, Lee County Transit has asked BikeWalkLee supporters to fill out this short survey. Thanks!


The Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA) congratulates the Florida Legislature for meeting in special session and successfully passing a commuter rail bill. Now that public transit is a red hot issue, the FPTA wants to know what you think about the role of public transportation in planning Florida’s future. Through December, FPTA is conducting an online survey of elected officials, business leaders, commuters, riders, transportation professionals and of all interested Floridians. The survey is twelve questions and will only take a few minutes to complete. Here is a link

We invite you to take the survey and to widely forward this ALERT to anyone interested in Florida’s transportation future.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

BikeWalkLee News—December 2, 2009

Welcome to the new format for BikeWalkLee News. On this blog, you’ll see regular postings of press releases and news stories about BikeWalkLee and related issues. At least for now, this “News” will be communicated to you by e-mail about weekly, but you should start checking the blog on a regular basis (http://bikewalklee.blogspot.com/).

This newsletter contains the following news items requests:

1. BWL Letter to Legislative Delegation requesting actions to address ped/bike safety 12/1/09

2. BWL Letter to Governor Crist requesting action on “Dangerous by Design” report 11/20/09

3. Time Magazine: “Florida’s Deadly Hit-and-Run Culture” 11/29/09

4. Florida Weekly feature story: “Southwest Florida’s deadly streets” 12/2/09

5. BWL Letter in support of Lee Dept. of Health CDC grant application: communities putting prevention to work, 11/24/09

6. Update on Lee County bike/ped ARRA (stimulus) projects

7. Dan Moser’s Resigns from Lee County’s Bike/Ped Advisory Committee

8. Update on national legislation and Administration policy

9. Be inspired by other communities: Lansing Michigan

1. BikeWalkLee Letter to Legislative Delegation

On December 1st, we delivered a letter to Rep. Aubuchon, Chairman of the Lee County Legislative Delegation, for the annual Legislative Delegation on December 15th. The letter is a follow-up to the “Dangerous by Design” report and our letter to Governor Crist asking for action. In this letter we request 6 specific actions that the State Legislature can take this session to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists, none of which require additional funding. We will be making a brief presentation to the entire legislative delegation at the December 15th meeting.

To read the letter, click below:


2. BikeWalkLee Letter to Governor Crist

On November 20th, we sent a letter to Governor Crist requesting the Governor to present a plan of action to the citizens of Florida in response to the Dangerous by Design report. I received an acknowledgement e-mail but no response yet. We also shared this letter with candidates for Governor and asked them what actions they would take if they were elected Governor.

To read the letter, click below:


Both letters have been widely distributed throughout Florida. Stay tuned for updates on responses we receive.

3. Time Magazine: “Florida’s Deadly Hit-and-Run Culture”

This week’s Time Magazine feature story, “Florida’s Deadly Hit-and-Run Car Culture”, is yet another call for statewide action to deal with the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in Florida.

Click below to read the article:


4. Florida Weekly feature story: “Southwest Florida’s deadly streets” 12/2/09

BY ROGER WILLIAMS rwilliams@floridaweekly.com

Toni Ferrell was nearing the end of a morning bike ride with a friend when she stopped at a busy Southwest Florida intersection to wait for the pedestrian go signal.

“Everything changed for me after that,” she admits.

Which intersection is less important than this troubling fact, in Ms. Ferrell’s mind: her fateful crossing could have occurred at any one of scores of intersections in a region where roads have been planned and built for decades without thought of walkers or bicyclists.

Traveling without a motor vehicle here can be more dangerous than almost anywhere else in the United States, new research reveals.

Charlotte County ranks as the most dangerous place for pedestrians in Florida and the second most dangerous in the nation; Lee County ranks 23rd on the list of the 360 most dangerous American places for pedestrians and bicyclists and among the top 10 in Florida; and the Naples-Marco Island corridor, although the safest urban zone in Southwest Florida, is rated twice as lethal for pedestrians as the national average, according to a recently released report, “Dangerous By Design.” Co-authored by Transportation for America (www.t4america.org), the title is a reference to the tradition of building roads only for cars and trucks, without thought of any other vehicles.

Click here to read the rest of this in-depth article, which features interviews with bike/walk advocates in Lee, Charlotte, and Collier counties: http://bikewalklee.blogspot.com/2009/12/florida-weekly-southwest-floridas.html

5. BikeWalkLee Letter in support of Lee Dept. of Health-s CDC grant application: communities putting prevention to work

We submitted a letter in support of the Dept. of Health’s December 1st application for a Center on Disease Control (CDC) nationally competitive grant , called “communities putting prevention to work”(also stimulus funds). Lee’s application proposes to address obesity in Lee County through improved nutrition and increased physical activity. Many of BWL’s supporter organizations worked in partnership on this grant application. This grant, if awarded, could give the county an opportunity to promote a healthier more physically active community, a vital piece to achieving the vision of complete streets. Awards aren’t made until the Spring.

6. Update on Lee County bike/ped ARRA (stimulus) projects

Since the last update on these projects on September 16th, some additional activity has occurred:

  1. The Metro extension road project is an FDOT project, which was awarded to Posen Construction in August with the bid amount of $29 million. This road project also includes a pathway (est. at 10% of project cost: $2.9 M). In September issues were raised concerns about the ped/bike access to the path and other design issues.

    At the November 20th BPCC meeting, the project manager for the Metro Project discussed the changes they are making in the design to accommodate these concerns. Although they are unable to move the path to the other side of the road in order to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists coming out of Briarcliff Rd. due to environmental and ROW issues, they are running the electric wiring across the intersection so that a traffic light can be installed if and when it is warranted, or if FDOT decides to install one without the warrants. In addition, they are adding bike lanes (signed and marked) to the entire extension project, and connecting these bike lanes to the paved shoulders on Alico Road in the south and the bike lanes in the Metro Parkway section north of Six Mile Cypress Parkway, which is currently being widened. Thanks to Bert Hamilton who raised these issues and has been working tirelessly with FDOT and LeeDOT staff to improve the design to make it safer for cyclists and walkers.
  2. Based on the discussion at the Nov. 20th MPO meeting, the following is the status of the Buckingham shoulders project:
    • Contract for phase one to Neal has been approved by BoCC & construction should start in December. (2 miles/ $294 K)
    • Phase two to Gunnery will be funded with funds left over from the low bid on phase one. This project is on the agenda for approval at the 12/8 BoCC meeting. Once the section to Neal is completed, this section will be ready to start. (2.3 miles/$453 K)
    • Phase three to Orange River remains to be funded. At the 11/20 MPO meeting, the Board agreed that projects that were underway but not fully funded (e.g. Buckingham) would receive first priority when new funds become available before funding any new projects. This section of the project requires a box culvert which requires some additional review/design by FDOT (2.5 miles/rough cost est. of $750 K to $1 M)
    • We are hopeful that with the low bids for projects coming in both in Lee County & throughout the state that there will be funds to reallocate to complete this project.
    • Although the original Buckingham shoulders project as submitted for the stimulus funds was designed to go up to Orange River, LeeDOT staff agrees that with changes in the road design plans for Buckingham (which were put on the shelf), to be complete, the Buckingham shoulders need to go back Palm Beach Blvd. (2.5 miles more). Funding for this section will need to be pursued through the BPAC prioritization process.

Thanks to Steve Rodgers of Caloosa Riders for speaking in support of completing this project at the MPO meeting.

  1. The Sanibel Toll bike improvements project: Bids were opened on 11/24 and the best bid came in at $319 K (vs. $535 K budgeted). This award will be on the BoCC agenda for approval in December (maybe 12/15). Construction is anticipated to begin in January and take less than 6 months to complete. This construction will occur during season, with any lane closures planned at night. In addition, LeeDOT informed us in October that the shoulders all the way back to McGregor will be improved and repaved (using the county annual repaving contract) in conjunction with this AARA project. Hopefully, before this summer, both parts of this project will be completed.
  2. Cape Coral sidewalks: Three Cape Coral sidewalk projects were funded in September with $1 million of excess funds from the Metro extension project. These 3 sidewalks are:
    • Cape Coral Parkway sidewalk from Aqualinda to Surfside ($115 K)
    • Beach Parkway sidewalk from Chiquita to Surfside ($505 K)
    • Nicholas Parkway sidewalk from Pine Island to Santa Barbara ($350 K)

Approval of these projects has allowed the City of Cape Coral to keep their sidewalk crews employed.

  1. Under a separate Department of Energy grant, a Homestead Rd. path/sidewalk project will be funded. The project has been approved but the overall grant has been stuck in Washington since June. Once the grant has been approved, this project will go back through the BoCC process for approval of the bid and award.
  2. The MPO’s countywide bike/ped master plan development is almost ready to begin. The MPO approved the ranking of the RFP proposals, and the MPO staff is now negotiating with the top ranked firms. RWA, who partnered with Hangen Bustlin, Inc., was ranked #1. The final master plan will be due to the MPO by December 31, 2010. The goal of this plan is to provide a safe accessible and connected bike/ped system countywide. The development of this plan, and the involvement of the bike/ped community in the process, will be one of BikeWalkLee’s priorities over the next year.
  3. The Slater Road sidewalk, although not funded with stimulus funds, was funded earlier this year and construction is now completed. We are checking to see if a ribbon cutting ceremony is being planned to celebrate this long-awaited sidewalk. We’ll keep you posted.

7. Update on national legislation and Administration policy

Legislation: Jobs-Focused Bill

In recent weeks, there has been talk in Washington of a jobs-focused bill, which could include a substantial transportation component (maybe $200 billion??). At the same time, Chairman Oberstar is pushing for a new surface transportation bill, possibly through a hike in the federal gas tax. The current extension of the transportation bill ends in mid-December, so stay tuned.

Livable Communities Act

The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will likely hold a markup of their legislation (S. 1619) in January. The legislation was introduced in August by Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT). The Livable Communities Act would authorize a federal Interagency Council on Sustainable Communities. It would also create a federal Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities at HUD, which would administer and oversee the Livable Communities grant programs. These grant programs include a competitive planning grant program for integrating land-use and environmental planning and challenge grants that could be used for changing zoning and building codes to allow for smarter growth and development.

The Transportation-HUD spending bill is one of four bills that have been approved by both chambers but have not been moved to conference. It is likely that this bill will become part of an omnibus spending bill to be passed when the current continuing resolution expires.

Federal Policy developments:

From the National Complete Streets Coalition Newsletter:

The Obama Administration isn't letting the delay in transportation reauthorization prevent them from doing more to encourage walking, biking, and taking public transportation. The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) just issued a "Proposed Policy Statement on the Eligibility of Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements under Federal Transit Law." The statement makes the case for investing in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure around transit stops and stations in order to increase rider ship and improve livability. Importantly, it clarifies the use of transit funds for these types of projects: the new policy would make all pedestrian improvements with 1/2 mile and all bicycle improvements within 3 miles of a stop or station eligible for funds from several transit programs. In explaining support for these types of projects, FTA quoted Secretary LaHood's summer testimony that mentioned complete streets.

Federal Highway Administration has also posted program guidance on their website to clarify that Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Program funds can be used for bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs. The League of American Bicyclists discusses how CMAQ funds can be used for bicycle and pedestrian projects in your community in a timely new report.

8. Dan Moser’s Resigns from Lee County’s Bike/Ped Advisory Committee

Below is a Dec. 2nd note from Dan Moser to the BikeWalkLee Community explaining his resignation:


By now most of you are aware of recent happening related to my role as an appointed member of two Lee County advisory committees and as a contractor with Lee County EMS. Below and attached is my notification to resign from both Lee County advisory committees on which I served.

Although it was a difficult decision to make I believe I'll be more effective if I continue to provide bike/ped education and awareness services, especially since I'll remain on MPO's BPCC, Fort Myers' BPAB, and our Injury Prevention Coalition board. Seeking an exemption, in my opinion, would have put EMS and BoCC in a difficult position and would likely have taken a significant amount of time to resolve, if ever.

Bert, please continue to serve on BPAC - you're BWL's connection to LCDOT.

If anyone knows someone who Commissioner Bigelow might consider to appoint to fill my position please let me know. It would be nice if that person lives in Commissioner's district but not necessary to be considered.


9. Be Inspired by other Communities: Lansing, Michigan


This is a terrific website and broad-based community coalition in Lansing, Michigan, working to complete the streets there. They succeeded in getting the complete streets policy adopted by their city council in August and are now working on their implementation plan. It’s got some great ideas that could be helpful to Lee County as it moves to implement our Complete Streets Resolution and craft the MPO countywide bike/ped master plan. Check out the link to their Power Point presentation to City Council on Complete Streets.

Darla Letourneau
Steering Group

a coalition to complete Lee County's streets




Florida Weekly: "Southwest Florida's deadly streets

Southwest Florida's deadly streets

BY ROGER WILLIAMS rwilliams@floridaweekly.com

Toni Ferrell was nearing the end of a morning bike ride with a friend when she stopped at a busy Southwest Florida intersection to wait for the pedestrian go signal.

“Everything changed for me after that,” she admits.

Which intersection is less important than this troubling fact, in Ms. Ferrell’s mind: her fateful crossing could have occurred at any one of scores of intersections in a region where roads have been planned and built for decades without thought of walkers or bicyclists.

Traveling without a motor vehicle here can be more dangerous than almost anywhere else in the United States, new research reveals.

Charlotte County ranks as the most dangerous place for pedestrians in Florida and the second most dangerous in the nation; Lee County ranks 23rd on the list of the 360 most dangerous American places for pedestrians and bicyclists and among the top 10 in Florida; and the Naples-Marco Island corridor, although the safest urban zone in Southwest Florida, is rated twice as lethal for pedestrians as the national average, according to a recently released report, “Dangerous By Design.”

Co-authored by Transportation for America (www.t4america.org), the title is a reference to the tradition of building roads only for cars and trucks, without thought of any other vehicles.

“A bicycle, by law, is as much a vehicle as a car, truck or transit bus,” with the same rights and obligations, notes Michelle Avola, executive director of Naples Pathways Coalition. That doesn’t mean that planners here or anywhere else have given bicycles or pedestrians much credence in the past, however.

But insistent voices from Naples to Fort Myers to Charlotte County are now helping pave a new path to change. They represent such groups such as the Naples Pathways Coaltion, Bike- WalkLee and Reconnecting Lee, and the Coastal Cruisers Bicycle Club, among others in Charlotte County.

FERRELL Ms. Ferrell, a 40-something architect who now sits on the steering committee of BikeWalkLee, did not volunteer to join any of those groups or to promote a general cause. Instead, she was forcefully drafted — like Earl Lang, a Punta Gorda bike shop owner and activist.

“I got hit by a truck when I was finishing a 400-mile bike ride, and it made me mad, which is why I started this,” he explains of his efforts to make Charlotte County leaders change their view of transportation essentials.

In Ms. Ferrell’s case, she used a sidewalk that emerged from a bike path frequented by cyclists and walkers attempting to cross Summerlin Road in South Fort Myers.

But no road signs existed warning drivers to beware of pedestrians and bicyclists, which is the standard rule in many American cities where road planners hold walkers and bikers in the same esteem as automobiles.

What happened next was cataclysmic, Ms. Ferrell remembers.

She got the go-ahead signal and started into the intersection. Her friend screamed a warning. Ms. Ferrell tried to get back and failed. She was then run over by a driver rushing to turn right on red — a woman who glanced left at oncoming traffic but never looked to the right, where she was headed, to see her way clear or to note that Ms. Ferrell had the right of way.

In fact, bicyclists were at fault in only 13 percent of accidents with motor vehicles, and pedestrians in only 20 percent of accidents in 2008, according to a report by BikeWalkLee. In most of those cases they were hurt or killed trying to navigate roads with no accommodation for their walking or pedaling.

“It’s taken me a full six years to get through the medical issues,” Ms. Ferrell revealed last week, while describing her 2003 accident. She lost most of the hearing in one ear when her head was bounced under the car — her helmet saved her life, she says. Her lower jaw was detached from her upper jaw and had to be rebuilt. She now suffers bursitis in the hip that took the first impact.

The economics of accidents

Her voice, however, reveals little complaint when she tallies the results, because she’s alive and back in the saddle. “It’s expensive and painful. It takes time out of your life,” she says. “But it’s behind me now.”

Happily, Ms. Ferrell continues to ride, and to encourage other adults to do the same thing.

“You forget if you haven’t gotten on a bike in a while as an adult how far you can go and how easy it is, especially here,” she explains. “The main reasons I ride are that it’s fun, it’s easy, it’s cheap, it’s simple, and it’s very convenient.”

And in her case, it did not result in an ultimate tragedy. Others, however, have not been so fortunate.

“Only a few months ago, here in Naples, a bicyclist was riding on a sidewalk near Goodlette and Fifth Avenue North when a truck was leaving the parking lot of a quick market and hit him,” says Ms. Avola. “He died. The driver didn’t see him coming — he was faster than a pedestrian but too close up to be seen when the truck pulled out.”

That’s why sidewalks are so dangerous for bicyclists, who are not supposed to use them in commercial areas in Naples, adds Ms. Avola.

Still, a little foresight from planners might have saved a life.

“If there had been a bike lane, or if there were signs or things had been marked, it might have been different,” she notes.

In other communities east and west, from Portland, Ore., to Boulder, Colo., to Chicago, to Louisville, Ky., “cyclists are embraced and people look out for them,” says Ms. Avola. And in those places both the destruction in human terms and the cost ultimately are much lower.

In St. Petersburg, for example, a massive effort by city leaders this decade to retrofit roads for bikes and pedestrians with pathways and underpasses reduced pedestrian crashes between 2000 and 2008 by more than half, and cut incapacitating injuries from 60 to 18 the last two years in a row, according to a report in the St. Petersburg Times.

The value of that becomes apparent in savings — not only savings of red blood but of green money.

When a pedestrian or a bicyclist is killed, the economic cost of the death is about $4.1 million, according to estimates by the National Safety Council. Those numbers take into account both the cost of the accident itself and the economic loss of a productive life. Even injuries that do not incapacitate the victims still cost about $53,000, on average.

For both Collier and Charlotte, where nine pedestrians and two bicyclists were killed in each county in 2007 and 2008, the cost of those deaths alone amounts to more than $44 million.

In Lee, where 32 pedestrians and 10 bicyclists died from auto crashes in 2007 and 2008, the fatalities alone cost $172.2 million. The cost of injuries in Lee added an extra $32.4 million to the butcher’s bill there, estimates Bike- WalkLee, which puts the total tally at $204.6 million.

And retrofitting, although likely to save money in the long run, is nevertheless very expensive. Since no sidewalks were planned along U.S. 41 north of Daniels Parkway in Fort Myers, for example — a job officials say could have been completed for less than $600,000 in today’s dollars — a retrofit is now planned. Estimated cost: $4.9 million.

Changes on the horizon

Ironically, perhaps, all of that is why the last three weeks have been among the most exciting in memory, not only for Ms. Ferrell, but for thousands like her across the region. Evidence of change is on the ground — or at least in a blueprint or a county resolution here or there — and in the air.

“We’re just beginning the culture change, the philosophy change, and that’s the biggest or the hardest part,” explains Darla Letourneau, a spokeswoman and director for BikeWalkLee.

In this first week of December, her organization is delivering letters both to Gov. Charlie Crist and to the Lee County Legislative Delegation headed by Rep. Gary Aubuchon asking that the state take firm steps to reduce fatalities in pedestrian and bicycle accidents by half.

Among other requests, the letters also insist that the Florida Department of Transportation hugely increase spending to accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. Since they account for 22 percent of all traffic fatalities in Florida, 22 percent of state funds should be spent to make roadways safe for them, argues BikeWalkLee. [Clarification from BWL: Our letter states that 22% of FDOT's safety funds (HSIP & Section 402) should be targeted to make the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.]

“We haven’t really had land-use planning here in the past, we’ve had road construction pushing development,” Ms. Letourneau surmises of the history.

But she expresses cautious optimism, especially since Lee County commissioners in November passed a “Complete Streets” resolution that could alter the way life works for pedestrians and bicyclists for ever after — and encourage many more to join their ranks.

“Complete Streets,” according to the written resolution, “are no more expensive than incomplete streets.”

The new resolution calls for county roads “to be planned, designed and operated to provide safe access for all users.”

There will be many more well marked paths, and major roads — the three most dangerous in the county are U.S. 41, Del Prado Boulevard in Cape Coral, and Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers — will be retrofitted for safer travel on foot or bike.

“We now expect planners (at FDOT and LeeDOT, as well as in Collier and Charlotte counties) to think about something other than just moving cars fast and multi-lane or wide roads,” says Ms. Letourneau.

As it stands, now only parts of the puzzle are in place, she adds.

“From the cyclists’ perspective, it’s like, there are lots of pieces but they aren’t connected. Shoulders are often poor and sidewalks are even worse. Developers might have had to do a piece of it, so now you have pieces of sidewalks that aren’t connected, bus stops not connected to sidewalks, bus stops in a swale or the drainage ditch, and you can’t cross a road if it’s raining because you’re in the water.”

On many roads, a shoulder will come to an abrupt end, leaving the biker in traffic. Then it will resume somewhere down the road, she explains.

But a good shoulder is where bicyclists feel safest in lieu of a bike path, since once they’re in traffic they can be easily seen and Florida law requires drivers to give them at least three feet of clearance when passing.

So when a shoulder ends abruptly, the road becomes very dangerous, bicyclists say.

Ms. Letourneau moved to Sanibel Island after retiring from a federal government job in Washington, D.C. ,because “I could roll out of bed and bike the entire island, and get what I needed without getting in a car,” she says.

But it still isn’t perfect. “If Dan Moser hadn’t been there we wouldn’t even have shoulders,” she admits. (Mr. Moser, a longtime bike and pedestrian activist, also writes a column about biking for Florida Weekly.) [BWL note: this statement is referring to the Sanibel bridges.]

“And the worst part is that they spent $22 million on the toll booths — but they paid no attention to cyclists.” (The bidding process to remedy that opened last week, she adds. The likely cost: $500,000.)

In Naples, meanwhile, a plan to push a “greenways” bike path parallel to U.S. 41 all the way to Miami is now in the works, says Ms. Avola.

And in Charlotte County, where Punta Gorda itself received an award as a bicycle friendly town while the county around it took the honors as the most dangerous in Florida, a new plan to create a 15.2-mile loop around town is now on the planning board. With various access points, it will help riders or walkers reach shopping, parks and other attractions, notes Mr. Lang.

In all the changes to come, there’s a philosophic undercurrent about how and where we live, says MerriBeth Farnham, an official for Reconnecting Lee, and a Fort Myers resident.

“When I walk in the streets of my neighborhood, there are no sidewalks,” she explains. “When my daughter wants to practice riding her bike without training wheels, it’s ironic, but it’s safer to drive her to a park. Our streets need to be people friendly, not just focused on moving cars. It’s just not right that a parent has to act as a human shield against oncoming traffic whenever they want to walk with their child to a nearby store or park.”

Here’s what to do, suggests Ms. Farnham.

“The better solution involves planning that goes well beyond roadbuilding and puts people back into the picture — planning that promotes compact, walkable neighborhoods and transit-oriented design.”

Notably, too, that kind of planning is economically smart, says Ms. Avola in Naples — and not just because injuries from accidents and the massive attendant costs go down.

“It’s been shown also that where there are sidewalks, and especially where you have them on both sides of the street, property values are higher,” she says.

“It’s easier to make five stops on your bike, too, than it is in your car. On your bike you can go for a coffee or a book or a few groceries — you can stop here and there with no trouble. But when people are in cars and traffic is a problem and parking is a hassle, you want to get in and out and do what you have to do in one place and be done with it.”

The way to create more liveable, pedestrian and bike-friendly communities is not only by providing bike paths, but by providing sidewalks that bicyclists don’t have to use.

“Sidewalk riders are dangerous to everyone,” says Mr. Lang in Punta Gorda. “And the other issue is green. If we want to reduce emissions and become green we have to have some kind of bicycle infrastructure that goes where we need to go. You can’t continue to plug in vulnerable users to a system where anybody not surrounded by 2,000 pounds of steel is in danger.”

Which is why Ms. Ferrell, in Lee County, moved downtown, where the redesigned Fort Myers city center includes not only bicycle friendly streets but shopping and other uses.

There, as in some other places, bicycles can be accepted as a mainstream part of the culture, she says.

“It’s most important now that cyclists finally become part of the mainstream,” she insists. “You learn when you’re mainstream that you don’t have to be part of some subculture” — you don’t have to buy fancy biking duds or expensive racing or mountain bikes, for example.

“Instead you can buy an urban upright bike and go down to the green market on Saturday,” says Ms. Ferrell.

Or just about anywhere else — at least, once the roads are made safe for walkers and bikers with paths and walks and ample signage, and a culture of respect between the operators of bicycles and motor vehicles arises.

“I went to a seminar and somebody told me that in Copenhagen, Denmark, people don’t think of themselves as ‘bike riders’ any more than they think of themselves as ‘bread eaters,’” Ms. Ferrell says. “Everybody eats bread. Everybody rides a bike.”

Perhaps that will prove to be a 21st century attitude on the southwest coast of Florida, too, someday. 